Last night I found myself in a crowd of a few hundred thousand people participating in the all important American tradition of watching colorful explosions in the sky. As we watched hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of pyrotechnics sparkle above us I had time to think about some important things.
A year ago on the third of July I saw something that disturbed me, the next day I posted this to Facebook:
I was saddened yesterday as I drove home from work. I saw a flagpole, one of the giant ones made to fly 50 foot flags, standing bare on the 3rd of July. It was under a star spangled banner that we gained our independence from a tyrant nation following our declaration in 1776. It was by soldiers under that flag that millions were freed from bondage around 90 years later. And it was by soldiers waving that flag that many thousands around the world were freed from unjust imprisonment around 80 years after that.
Unfortunately today many are trying to turn the American flag into a symbol of something it never stood for. Sure our history is not perfect, nothing is, but the bad things of our past should not negate the good. We need to remember and learn from all of our history, both the good and bad so that we can strive to be better.
Unfortunately today the loudest voices are those pushing for division rather than unity. We cannot overcome any problem by grouping people and judging them based on the groups they belong to rather than by their individual character as Dr. King dreamt. Not everyone fits the label you, or others, initially give them, in fact they rarely do. Labels are dangerous.
If we are going to fix the world’s problems we need to strive for unity and understanding rather than division and hate. If you are unwilling to find the facts on issues, or look at the perspectives of those who don’t share your worldview then you are a part of the problem no matter where you stand. You have to respect the views, ideas and experiences of others if you want them to respect yours.
Let us strive to be understanding and loving of one another, look for reasons to love rather than reasons to hate, because united we stand and divided we fall. Be brave, and think free. God bless the USA, we need it.
A year later I still stand by every word of that post, and I don't know of any true American who wouldn't. But interestingly I lost a few friends on Facebook because of that post, now of course this didn't bother me too much I've never cared about having a ton of friends on social media and frankly I was tired of seeing some of the stuff those friends were posting so I guess I was happy that I offended them.
This year I'm having a much better Independence Day, unlike last year I'm not in a city which has been shut down and insists that nobody shows their face, instead I'm in a place where we are actually free and where patriots can celebrate their country.
One of the biggest problems I see with America right now is a lack of patriotism. Patriotism is really the only thing with the potential to unite people of different backgrounds, races, and religions. If you love your country you will love your neighbor, this is how strong communities are built.
Unfortunately many Americans these days are being taught to hate our country, this is something that we cannot accept. When people look for things to hate they will always find something, and of course that something will never be happiness because you cannot live a happy life while focusing on hate. Of course it is still important to recognize that America is not perfect and neither were the men who founded it and have led it throughout the years, Jesus was the only perfect man to walk this Earth. But we should never define people by the worst things they've ever done, instead we should judge people by their values and how well they live up to them, and when it comes to America and its founders and leaders there is plenty to be proud of.
Patriotism is also something that people are being taught to unjustly frown upon because people are being led to believe that it is something that it is not. Patriotism is not nationalism, a patriot does not believe that their culture needs to be practiced by everyone in the world like a nationalist does, and when a patriot says that their country is the best in the world they do not mean that it should be the only country in the world. Patriots respect other countries and cultures, especially in America because the United States is a nation of immigrants. I have several friends whose parents are immigrants or who are immigrants themselves, and I really don't have to go back very many generations to see which of my ancestors brought me here. An American patriot knows that this country is nothing without immigrants and they should be welcome to anyone willing to go through the steps necessary to become an American.
As I watched fireworks last night I was proud to be in a crowd of patriots.
I am proud to be an American, and I truly do believe that this is the greatest nation on Earth. I am happy that I live somewhere where I am free to say what I want, believe what I think is best, free to live by those beliefs, and free to protect myself and others. I am grateful to live here and happy to celebrate that gratitude. I've been planning this post for quite a while and I've had multiple ideas of what I would write today and while I could ramble on about American history or something (as it is something that we all should reread rather than rewrite) I think it is better if I leave you the text of the document which this day is the anniversary of and then a few songs celebrating the United States of America.
WHEN in the Course of human Events, it
becomes necessary for one People to dissolve the Political Bands which
have connected them with another, and to assume among the Powers of the
Earth, the separate and equal Station to which the Laws of Nature and
of Nature’s God entitle them, a decent Respect to the Opinions of
Mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them
to the Separation.
We hold these Truths to be self-evident, that all Men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness—-That to secure these Rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just Powers from the Consent of the Governed, that whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these Ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its Foundation on such Principles, and organizing its Powers in such Form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient Causes; and accordingly all Experience hath shewn, that Mankind are more disposed to suffer, while Evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the Forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long Train of Abuses and Usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object, evinces a Design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their Right, it is their Duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future Security. Such has been the patient Sufferance of these Colonies; and such is now the Necessity which constrains them to alter their former Systems of Government. The History of the present King of Great-Britain is a History of repeated Injuries and Usurpations, all having in direct Object the Establishment of an absolute Tyranny over these States. To prove this, let Facts be submitted to a candid World.
He has refused his Assent to Laws, the most wholesome and necessary for the public Good.
He has forbidden his Governors to pass Laws of immediate and pressing Importance, unless suspended in their Operation till his Assent should be obtained; and when so suspended, he has utterly neglected to attend to them.
He has refused to pass other Laws for the Accommodation of large Districts of People, unless those People would relinquish the Right of Representation in the Legislature, a Right inestimable to them, and formidable to Tyrants only.
He has called together Legislative Bodies at Places unusual, uncomfortable, and distant from the Depository of their public Records, for the sole Purpose of fatiguing them into Compliance with his Measures.
He has dissolved Representative Houses repeatedly, for opposing with manly Firmness his Invasions on the Rights of the People.
He has refused for a long Time, after such Dissolutions, to cause others to be elected; whereby the Legislative Powers, incapable of Annihilation, have returned to the People at large for their exercise; the State remaining in the mean time exposed to all the Dangers of Invasion from without, and Convulsions within.
He has endeavoured to prevent the Population of these States; for that Purpose obstructing the Laws for Naturalization of Foreigners; refusing to pass others to encourage their Migrations hither, and raising the Conditions of new Appropriations of Lands.
He has obstructed the Administration of Justice, by refusing his Assent to Laws for establishing Judiciary Powers.
He has made Judges dependent on his Will alone, for the Tenure of their Offices, and the Amount and Payment of their Salaries.
He has erected a Multitude of new Offices, and sent hither Swarms of Officers to harrass our People, and eat out their Substance.
He has kept among us, in Times of Peace, Standing Armies, without the consent of our Legislatures.
He has affected to render the Military independent of and superior to the Civil Power.
He has combined with others to subject us to a Jurisdiction foreign to our Constitution, and unacknowledged by our Laws; giving his Assent to their Acts of pretended Legislation:
For quartering large Bodies of Armed Troops among us:
For protecting them, by a mock Trial, from Punishment for any Murders which they should commit on the Inhabitants of these States:
For cutting off our Trade with all Parts of the World:
For imposing Taxes on us without our Consent:
For depriving us, in many Cases, of the Benefits of Trial by Jury:
For transporting us beyond Seas to be tried for pretended Offences:
For abolishing the free System of English Laws in a neighbouring Province, establishing therein an arbitrary Government, and enlarging its Boundaries, so as to render it at once an Example and fit Instrument for introducing the same absolute Rule into these Colonies:
For taking away our Charters, abolishing our most valuable Laws, and altering fundamentally the Forms of our Governments:
For suspending our own Legislatures, and declaring themselves invested with Power to legislate for us in all Cases whatsoever.
He has abdicated Government here, by declaring us out of his Protection and waging War against us.
He has plundered our Seas, ravaged our Coasts, burnt our Towns, and destroyed the Lives of our People.
He is, at this Time, transporting large Armies of foreign Mercenaries to compleat the Works of Death, Desolation, and Tyranny, already begun with circumstances of Cruelty and Perfidy, scarcely paralleled in the most barbarous Ages, and totally unworthy the Head of a civilized Nation.
He has constrained our fellow Citizens taken Captive on the high Seas to bear Arms against their Country, to become the Executioners of their Friends and Brethren, or to fall themselves by their Hands.
He has excited domestic Insurrections amongst us, and has endeavoured to bring on the Inhabitants of our Frontiers, the merciless Indian Savages, whose known Rule of Warfare, is an undistinguished Destruction, of all Ages, Sexes and Conditions.
In every stage of these Oppressions we have Petitioned for Redress in the most humble Terms: Our repeated Petitions have been answered only by repeated Injury. A Prince, whose Character is thus marked by every act which may define a Tyrant, is unfit to be the Ruler of a free People.
Nor have we been wanting in Attentions to our British Brethren. We have warned them from Time to Time of Attempts by their Legislature to extend an unwarrantable Jurisdiction over us. We have reminded them of the Circumstances of our Emigration and Settlement here. We have appealed to their native Justice and Magnanimity, and we have conjured them by the Ties of our common Kindred to disavow these Usurpations, which, would inevitably interrupt our Connections and Correspondence. They too have been deaf to the Voice of Justice and of Consanguinity. We must, therefore, acquiesce in the Necessity, which denounces our Separation, and hold them, as we hold the rest of Mankind, Enemies in War, in Peace, Friends.
We, therefore, the Representatives of the UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, in General Congress, Assembled, appealing to the Supreme Judge of the World for the Rectitude of our Intentions, do, in the Name, and by Authority of the good People of these Colonies, solemnly Publish and Declare, That these United Colonies are, and of Right ought to be, Free and Independent States; that they are absolved from all Allegiance to the British Crown, and that all political Connection between them and the State of Great-Britain, is and ought to be totally dissolved; and that as Free and Independent States, they have full Power to levy War, conclude Peace, contract Alliances, establish Commerce, and to do all other Acts and Things which Independent States may of right do. And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm Reliance on the Protection of divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes, and our sacred Honor.
Oh, beautiful for spacious skies,
For amber waves of grain,
For purple mountain majesties
Above the fruited plain!
God shed his grace on thee,
And crown thy good with brotherhood
From sea to shining sea.
Oh, beautiful for pilgrim feet,
Whose stern, impassioned stress
A thoroughfare of freedom beat
Across the wilderness!
God mend thine ev’ry flaw,
Confirm thy soul in self-control,
Thy liberty in law.
Oh, beautiful for heroes proved
In liberating strife,
Who more than self their country loved,
And mercy more than life!
May God thy gold refine,
Till all success be nobleness,
And ev’ry gain divine.
Oh, beautiful for patriot dream
That sees beyond the years
Thine alabaster cities gleam,
Undimmed by human tears!
God shed his grace on thee,
And crown thy good with brotherhood
From sea to shining sea.
Oh say, can you see, by the dawn’s early light,
What so proudly we hailed at the twilight’s last gleaming,
Whose broad stripes and bright stars, through the perilous fight,
O’er the ramparts we watched, were so gallantly streaming?
And the rockets’ red glare, the bombs bursting in air,
Gave proof thru the night that our flag was still there.
Oh say, does that star-spangled banner yet wave
O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave?
On the shore, dimly seen thru the mists of the deep,
Where the foe’s haughty host in dread silence reposes,
What is that which the breeze, o’er the towering steep,
As it fitfully blows, half conceals, half discloses?
Now it catches the gleam of the morning’s first beam,
In full glory reflected now shines on the stream;
’Tis the star-spangled banner! Oh, long may it wave
O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave!
Oh, thus be it ever, when free men shall stand
Between their loved homes and the war’s desolation!
Blest with vict’ry and peace, may the heav’n-rescued land
Praise the Pow’r that hath made and preserved us a nation!
Then conquer we must, when our cause it is just,
And this be our motto: “In God is our trust!”
And the star-spangled banner in triumph shall wave
O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave!